PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Digital IQ research examines the importance of unlocking value from the next generation of digital technologies.
Consulting firm PwC first issued its Digital IQ research in 2007, and recently released a 2017 edition including over 2200 respondents from 53 countries. Of the business and IT leaders represented, 62 percent work in organizations with revenues of $1 billion or greater, and 38 percent have revenues between $500 million and $1 billion. In short, these companies certainly have enough resources to make substantial digital investments and realize big-time ROI from new technologies.
Interestingly, though, that’s not what’s happening. The latest survey shows that Digital IQ scores—a measure of an organization’s capability to get strategic value from technology investments—have stagnated since PwC first started tracking them 10 years ago. Although new tools are entering the marketplace at rapid speed and the meaning of “digital” has expanded far beyond its IT heritage, most organizations haven’t kept up. Most are just at the very beginning of exploring what PwC calls the “essential eight:” internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, augmented reality, virtual reality, drones, and blockchain.
One reason for this stasis, says PwC blogger Chris Curran, is that the previous wave of technology game-changers (cloud, mobile, analytics) still commands significant time and money at many organizations. Also, most organizations have still not dedicated specific senior leaders to focus on creating real business value from their companies’ investments in emerging technologies, and generally lack sufficient staff with the skills necessarily to exploit the potential of emerging technologies in their enterprises.
The problem with low Digital IQ reflects more than a lack of opportunity to take advantage of newer and efficient technologies that can streamline business and improve operations. In fact, if organizations can’t evolve quickly enough to keep up with technology, chances are they aren’t evolving quickly enough in other areas either. And companies that move too slowly cannot be successful in an agile environment where real-time problem-solving is king.
Innovation is a terrific example of this. Having a can-do, adaptable culture means being willing and able to experiment, and taking ownership of both successes and failures. But as Curran points out, many companies still take a passive approach to innovation. In 2017, despite a profusion of resources (e.g., incubators/startups, crowdsourcing options, makers, open source methods, and university labs), many companies still rely on old-school methods such as industry analysts, competitive intelligence, and vendors when seeking to innovate. Organizations that rely too much on others in the technology realm are likely ceding control of their destiny in other areas too. And that’s dangerous.
In terms of increasing Digital IQ, support from the top is, of course, essential. PwC also suggests activating technology evangelists who can lead the charge and recruit departmental advocates to assist with new implementations, and soliciting the bigger picture by attending conferences and tapping research and open-source projects. Stronger integration with the technology community (in Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Austin, Chicago, Boston, etc.) will also help boost your Digital IQ in a way that also drives more innovation and agility overall.